I know according to the church calendar, today is considered Maunday Thursday, the day that remembers Jesus last supper with his disciples, his new covenant, and his commissioning of them to walk out a new way of life – of serving each other – and a new command – to love.
In other words, its when the church remembers that Jesus, as a Jew, celebrated the passover meal with his disciples, proclaiming God’s freedom to his close friends, as they sat in a borrowed house, knowing some faith leaders opposed him, some were in a little too tight with the government, and amidst a nation of people overtaxed and living beneath the Empire of Roman rule.
Having celebrated Passover with my family for years as Jon and I raised our children, one of the things he would always point out is that not only is it a time to look back, but it is a time to look forward, to stand in solidarity with those who are still held captive as slaves and know that there is still work to be done. Tables are always open to proclaimed the delivering power of Yahweh as part of their story. Analogies always ready to bring a thousand year old story to bear on the world we live in today.
I have always loved the enter-twining of these two stories, of Jesus bringing new meaning to old traditions…. and of weekends when the celebration of the passover synchs with the night of the crucifixion and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. To me, it makes it all that more significant.
Yet this year, that is not really why I write.
Tonight, I write to the doubters. To the ones whose faith is hanging by a thread, to the ones who aren’t sure if they can believe any more, or to those who are investigating and are not sure what to make of all the emotional rollercoaster that it can feel like churches are trying to create this weekend, remembering the story.
Tonight, I write to the ones who look at the burdens of the world and wonder if the story is really real, if the life of faith and belief and struggle it really worth it. After all, what proof is there?
Oh, my friends.
Perhaps I had read one too many blogs of the disheartened, one too many stories of those who have walked away. It’s hard to read, and sometimes I feel I carry the burden of those stories too close to the vest, especially when they are people who I know and love. It’s weighty, to long so deeply for others to actually see and believe – and one day trust in – the deep love of Jesus.
I didn’t know how heavy a burden it was for me until a close friend of ours gave me the privilege of hearing the new song he and some other musicians were putting together for this Easter. It’s a song simply quoting Matthew 25:5-6 – but with some amazing voices and a unique musical composition.
(Unfortunately I can’t link to Spotify here but if you search for “Matthew 25:5-6” you can find it. Aaron Strumpel’s name will be by it)
As a I sat listening to it in his studio, cranked up as loud as I could handle, I closed my eyes and just listened. The first time I heard it, it was like the Holy Spirit was whispering to my very soul. Witnessing to the very truth of the story that my whole life has been wrapped around, and will always be.
“He is not here.. he is risen, just as he said” they sung.. and the Spirit whispering at the same time.. it’s true, it’s true….
This song SHOUTED to me, a “hallelujah!“ if you will, reminding me once again that the truth of the resurrection of Jesus can speak to our doubt, if we will let the Holy Spirit be that witness.
He is REAL.
Against all doubts, the story of the resurrection should make the skeptic investigate, the ones who doubt and long for proof be satisfied.
and I believe in the quiet of the places where no one else can see you, where no one else is clamoring for your attention, or even just some place where you let your mind begin to consider…
The witness of the Spirit.
Faith is never in vain, my friend.
This Jesus, this is the one who loves so deeply and longs to reveal his heart and friendship to you. I pray you are willing to sit and let the story of the resurrection speak to your doubt this year, and find in its place hope, however small…. and find faith again (or for the first time).
You are LOVED!